Staying within the confines of cozy, everyday comfort feels really good. As in, repeating the same routine, seeing the same people, reading the same types of books and taking the same route every day. While sometimes it's important to lean into that familiarity, there's also a real beauty in stretching yourself just beyond easy comfort. More than that, it can literally change your life.
"Humans tend to gravitate toward the habits that are familiar to us, but living a life too based on structure can often lead to obsolescence, loss of meaning and stagnation. We can only grow once we learn to step out of our comfort zone," says Katelyn MiskevicsLMFT at LifeStance Health. "One benefit of shaking off stale energy is that you might surprise yourself in what you are capable of, showing your brain that anything is possible if you have the courage to push yourself. This can increase confidence.
As you consider your New Year's resolutions - and really #lifegoals in general - consider some of the following ways you might be able to push yourself in the coming weeks and months (if only a little). Even small changes can create momentum in your life.
1. Get out of your social network
You've probably heard of terms like "social bubble" or "echo chamber". The concept is that we are constantly surrounded by the same people, and they are often people who reaffirm our own beliefs. This becomes especially true as we get older and have fewer chances to meet new friends and - let's be honest - less desire to expand our social horizons!
Branching out from your existing social network (both online and in person) often requires us to put in more effort than usual, Miskevics notes. Ways to expand your social circle may include pushing yourself to go to an after-work event, joining a local team or club, or reaching out to an acquaintance you haven't met yet.
2. Set a new small physical goal
We tend to adopt a "aim big or go home" mindset when it comes to physical health, but this can often feel overwhelming and ultimately delay progress. Here's the thing; You don't have to run a marathon this year or go to the gym five days a week. Think small and build momentum from there.
"Maybe you set a monthly goal, like walking a mile by the end of January, walking a mile and a half by the end of February, and so on," suggests Dr. Kathryn Smerlinga psychotherapist in New York City. "You can also try six new exercises in six months, with a different type of exercise each month. Figure out what you like and stick with it for the next six months.
She notes that pushing your body also pushes your mind. Science tells us that there is a very clear link between physical and mental well-being, and moving our bodies in healthy ways can make us feel more positive and energized. Victory doubled!
3. Identify your weaknesses
We won't sugarcoat it. This task is probably the hardest thing to do on this list! However, holding up a mirror and identifying our greatest weaknesses gives us the opportunity to make a real change. If you do it thoughtfully and with sincere dedication, it will improve your overall quality of life, fostering everything from more love for yourself to deeper connections with others to a more satisfying daily experience.
Here's what to do: Set aside 30 minutes to an hour and write down two or three of your weaknesses. Think about harsh feedback you've received from someone you trust, a sensitive issue you tend to avoid because it's hard to face, or an unsuccessful pattern you repeat over and over that doesn't serve you. Once you have identified the weaknesses, remember that perfection is *literally *impossible and that taking note of the weaknesses offers an opportunity for growth.
This is a chance to practice grace and love for yourself - not a time for painful, rigid criticism. Simply identifying your pain points sets you on a trajectory for improvement, and that's the goal here. With self-love in mind, write down ways to take action to improve this weakness today, next week, and next month.
4. Expand your mind in new ways
It may seem impossible to make time for ourselves, but chances are you probably have a little more time than you think. Even if it's only 60 minutes a day - an hour away from the TV, computer or your phone - investing in your mind is a great way to Challenge yourself. This can include anything from joining a book club, learning a new language, trying a new skill or taking up a new hobby.
"It's something that is essential for us and our overall well-being. Even if you're not used to reading or you choose to focus on a new topic or a new skill set that you want to learn, you're naturally pushing yourself," says Dr. Smerling. She adds, "Trying an activity like this can also push someone out of their comfort zone because we are introduced to a new environment with people we haven't met."
Determined to meet your goals in 2023? Here is our best tips for keeping new year's resolutions well beyond the first two weeks of the year. (Number 4 may seem a bit odd, but we promise it's a game changer!)
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